Suzanne Dijon shares her experiences of teaching Geology and Biology in a Lycee in France. She talks about the course and how it has developed over three years.

I teach Biology and Geology in English to French pupils in a secondary school (lycée) in France. They are aged 15 to 18 and have chosen this course called "European Section". They have previously had two years of "double English".

During the first year
I propose activities in English, such as:

  • watching a video edited by the European space agency about the search of water on Mars, and filling in a multiple choice questionnaire;
  • playing the "animal game" in groups of 5 or 6. Students ask questions to one another, in turns, to discover who is the reptile, the mammal, the amphibian, the fish or the bird.
  • reporting to the class after having read additional information about a lesson (for example reporting about athletes hearts or pacemakers after a lesson on the heart).

I don't have a dedicated hour for these activities.

During the second year
The type of activities depends on the size of the class and on the timetable. Students can do practical activities with a protocol in English, followed by written or oral reports. If the number of pupils exceeds 18, then most practical activities are impossible and we turn to other activities, such as reading documents, doing online experiments in virtual labs, watching pieces of videos, doing internet quests, to answer scientific questions about topics like "body temperature regulation", or "life near the hot vents in the deep ocean".

During the third year
I have an hour and a half per week to teach Biology and Geology in English to a class, which follows the usual curriculum in French in parallel. So as not to repeat what they do in French courses, I cooperate with my colleagues to find complementary examples, or I focus on social or ethical aspects of science. During this third year I prepare the students to an oral exam. There are two examiners: an English teacher and a CLIL teacher. The student has to comment on a text related to one of the topics covered during the year, then he is asked questions about other activities carried out during the year (visits, conferences in English...).

Teaching in a European Section
This demands some cooperation with my English colleagues. I try to keep them informed of the topics I teach, so they can make links with theirs. For instance I worked on "doping", and my colleague about "heroes", and there were some connections to make. Sometimes we double-correct a paper: I evaluate the scientific points, my colleague evaluates the language.

What I like most about CLIL
CLIL offers much freedom in the planning of lessons, since there is no specific textbook yet. It requires curiosity (looking for resources that will match the curriculum and be the right level of science and language) and creativity (turning the resources into activities, thinking of ways of introducing the vocabulary). As for the curriculum, I can choose within the French curriculum the topics that I want to cover in English. 

Suzanne Dijon
Lycée Jean-Baptiste Corot